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Labatt to cut GHGs by 30% at Montreal brewery

Heat recovery system to replace steam equipment at facility

Labatt's Montreal brewery is installing a heat recovery system to cut its energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. (Courtesy Enterprise Canada)

Labatt Brewing Company Ltd. has made a $6-million investment in its Montreal brewery that it says will slash greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 per cent, contributing to its 2025 and 2040 climate commitments.

A heat recovery system will transfer energy from the brewery’s refrigeration system onto a pasteurization line, slashing operational energy consumption and GHG emissions.

The brewery was established in 1956 and produces approximately 2.9 million hectolitres of beverages per year for dozens of Labatt’s brands – enough to supply 34 million cases of 24-can packs.

“First and foremost, it’s to address our commitment and goals that we have set toward a sustainability perspective for Labatt. Across the board, looking at how we can improve our sustainability as a company,” Sarah Genetti, vice-president of procurement and sustainability at Labatt, told Sustainable Biz Canada in an interview.

Labatt has set out to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 25 per cent by 2025 and achieve net-zero by 2040.

Labatt’s sustainability moves

The upgrade for the Montreal brewery replaces the steam equipment with a heat pump. Instead of relying on natural gas or electricity to power the pasteurization line, the facility can recover and reuse the heat to cut down on energy consumption and pollution.

Genetti could not share the amount of GHG emissions produced at the brewery, but said the heat recovery system reduces the figure by approximately 30 per cent.

“We certainly use a lot of energy in our brewery, but the real initiative here that we’re measuring and focusing on is improvement,” she said.

The project was started in 2022 and is expected to be complete in Q3 or Q4 of 2024.

Labatt has six major breweries and four craft breweries across Canada, and some have undergone an investment to improve sustainability.

In 2021, Labatt put $50 million toward its London, Ont. brewery to replace plastic rings for six-packs with paperboard packaging in an effort to reduce plastic waste. A similar initiative was taken in November 2023 at its St. John’s brewery at a cost of $10.5 million. Labatt also invested in its Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador facilities to reduce GHG emissions by improving equipment, Genetti said.

Following the move in Montreal, Labatt has invested $43.1 million into its operations nationwide in 2023.

InBev’s climate efforts

Genetti pointed Sustainable Biz Canada to the sustainability report of Labatt’s parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev when asked about Labatt’s greenhouse gas emissions. InBev’s target is to achieve net-zero across its value chain (covering Scope 1, 2 and 3) by 2040.

For 2025, InBev has set a goal to purchase 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, which would cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 25 per cent across its value chain. The target is shared with Labatt.

InBev cut its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 39.2 per cent in 2022 against its 2017 baseline, a 2.37 million tonne reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent. The intensity of its value chain emissions fell to 47.29 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per hectolitre in 2022, marking a 20.7 per cent reduction from 2017.

A Canada-specific initiative to take on Scope 3 emissions was InBev’s partnership with Ball Corporation, Rio Tinto and Novelis to pilot a low-carbon beverage can for its Corona brand. The low-carbon aluminum reduces aluminum can sheet carbon emissions by more than 30 per cent, InBev said in its 2022 sustainability report.

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